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Filtering by Category: Artists

Painters Painting the Black Body

Mario Moore

Painting the Black body in the expanse of history has been a tool for exploitation, admiration, jealousy, sexuality, exoticism and many other things. Usually through the hands and eyes of white male artists, the Black body has served these positions ultimately to the service of the white figures that occupy the forefront of these works of art. There are some historical exceptions of white artists honoring a Black figure, like Velazquez painting of Juan de Pareja or the painting of Alexandre Dumas by Oliver Pichat. But even these anomalies in history are only a small speck in the large canon of art.

Lately, there have been artists who are turning the tables on this narrative—Black painters that are devoted to representing the Black body through their eyes. But this isn’t anything new. The artist Henry Ossawa Tanner gave us insight into Black lives through his painterly hand in the 19th century. There were other Black artists working during that time but many stayed clear from representing the Black figure because they were afraid they would be unable to make a living. Today, there are more Black painters taking up the mantel to represent Black figures within their work. With the new retrospective of Kerry James Marshall, one of the leaders in putting the Black body at the forefront of his painting narrative, there are countless Black painters working today who are focusing on the representation of Black people in their work.  Here is the first installment of four contemporary painters that focus primarily on representing the Black body:


1.     Jennifer Packer

Untitled, 24 x 36, Oil on canvas, 2014

And Dreaming, 10 x 20, Oil on canvas, 2015

Looking at Jennifer’s work, the viewer can get lost in the form and absence of color in certain areas that have been wiped out. But this absence of color or erasure can be seen as a protective covering for the lives of the Black figures that she represents. We are at the mercy of what she wants to reveal and what she wants to hide. You may see a knee or the face of a figure in a field of color. She provides a safe space for the Black figure to reside that was ultimately exploited throughout history. She is a painter that gives us an intimate psychological view of figurative painting.

Check out more of her work here: Jennifer Packer



2.     Derek Fordjour

Double Down, 60 x 40, Oil on panel, 2016

Fearless Foursome, 2013

I have not seen many of Derek’s pieces in person but from what I have seen the pieces are always dope. His work uses games as metaphors and how they can be applied to our living experiences.  From board games, to the confetti of winning a championship, and basketball uniforms we see all there is about the spectacle of achievement and failure. There are often images of blocks and athletes that stand upon them within his paintings. I can’t help but draw comparisons between the slave auction blocks and the selling of Black bodies that represent the athletes within his work.

See more of his work here: Derek Fordjour

3.     Tylonn Sawyer

Congregation MLK, 120 x 48, Oil on canvas, 2015

Class Photo #1 Baldwin, 72 x 48, Oil on canvas, 2015


I’m used to seeing Tylonn’s large portrait paintings. But in his recent series, Sawyer uses historical black figures as masks. They act as the embodiment of revolution and they grace the faces of multiple figures in his paintings. Essentially, these paintings are a call to action. They allow us to look at the times we live in and imagine how Dr. King or Nina Simone would take action in the present.

Check out more of his work here: Tylonn Sawyer


4.     Senghor Reid


Senghor’s paintings show Black figures bathing in colorful light. His paintings show delight in the texture and body of paint. He is unafraid to use color and his figures often sit in front of the clouds. His pieces show a pleasure in the act of painting but also show a very intense gaze from the people within his paintings that contrast the bright colors seen in his work.

Check out more of his work here: Senghor Reid    

Please let me know of any other painters you think I should feature next. Comment below.






You don't have to be rich to buy art

Mario Moore


Many people collect art for different reasons. I collect art because I'm an artist and I know other dope artist's work that I appreciate. An art collection is like an extension of yourself-- things you admire, things that challenge your thinking and things you can't live without.

Collecting art is not just something for the rich. Last year, I went to the 30 Americans private opening at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The show is a part of the Rubell collection and has been exhibited at several museums across America.

The Rubells have a private museum in Miami where their art collection is housed. They own the kind of art you see in the news or listed in Christies’ latest record-breaking auction. But their collection didn't begin that way. They started small like many collectors do-- usually during their college years. As the Rubells became more established and successful, they expanded their collection but always bought what they could afford.

During the talk they gave for the exhibition, there was a woman who wanted to know if she could buy a Kehinde Wiley painting on the low-low. I'm not knocking her hustle; she wanted to see what the prices were for something super small. She held her hands together really close and said, "How about this small?". If she was able to buy one of his pieces for the price I think she was aiming for, I probably would have been next in line.

 The thing about this artist is that most of his pieces-- even the smallest ones-- start off in the tens of thousands of dollars, probably more. The Rubells told the woman that Wiley was now out of their reach and that she should consider local and emerging artists to begin her collection. That was the best advice they could have given her. 

The Rubells and curator during their talk at the Detroit Institute of Arts

The Rubells and curator during their talk at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Opening reception for 30 Americans

Opening reception for 30 Americans

Most people believe you have to be wealthy to buy works of art. They see it as excess, but I believe it is a necessity. When you walk into any home, you will find pictures hanging on the wall. Photos of family and friends, and plenty of framed posters, knock-off prints from street fairs, or corny "art" from stores, like Walmart. 

If you fit easily in the category of folks that have framed posters of the man holding the earth on his shoulders with his queen sitting on top or the one with the black woman pregnant with earth and many more I could describe-- if those images somehow compel or interest you enough to purchase and place on your wall, you should definitely consider buying work from an emerging artist.

 Yes, you may have to pay a little more, but this work of art can be seen as an investment and will be more affordable for you, considering the artist has not yet made any huge sales. You will also be supporting a living, working artist. Hello, people.

Most people don't know that some galleries and artist are open to putting you on a payment plan. It might sound crazy, but get that joint on layaway. It's much better than the Walmart wall art plan you had in mind.
The Rubells built their collection using this type of payment. The Rubells said they once asked an artist if they could pay 40 dollars for the month during one of their art-a-way plans and the artist agreed. My point: ask and you may receive. 

So if you are searching for some interesting work to buy, ditch that print you were looking at of the man and woman chiseling one another out of rock and check out your local art galleries, go to art openings and search the papers for art events. The best way to get in on the ground floor is to go to open studios where artists allow the public to come into their creative spaces and see what they have been working on.

Opening reception at Red Bull House of Art

Opening reception at Red Bull House of Art

Me working in the studio

Me working in the studio

 These are the places where you can start and in a few years, you will have an amazing art collection of original work from dope, living artists. Trust me. The walls of your home will thank you.



Three Artists that you need to know now

Mario Moore

The inner workings of the art world and the politics of who gets seen can leave some really talented artists hidden. Don't get me wrong the artists that I am about to introduce to you have shown in museums, galleries and art institutions but they are relatively known in certain circles and deserve a much larger audience. So here are three artists that everyone needs to know now:

1. Tiff Massey  

Hidale Street, Tiff Massey

Hidale Street, Tiff Massey

I Do I Do I Doooo, Tiff Massey

I Do I Do I Doooo, Tiff Massey

Tiff Massey is a mixed-media artist from Detroit, Michigan, currently represented by Library Street Collective. Massey holds an MFA in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a BS in Biology from Eastern Michigan University. Her work, inspired by African standards of economic vitality, includes both large-scale and wearable sculptures. Massey counts the iconic material culture of 1980's hip-hop as a major influence in her jewelry. She uses contemporary observances of class and race through the lens of an African diaspora, combined with material drawn from her experience in Detroit. She is a 2015 Kresge Visual Arts Fellowship awardee as well as a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge winner, and was recently recognized as a Michigan Chronicle 40 Under 40 award recipient.

To find out more about her work, where it's been and why it's so dope check out her site: Tiff Massey

2. Charles Williams

Lost and Found #3 , Charles Williams, Oil on canvas

Lost and Found #3, Charles Williams, Oil on canvas

Lost and Found #1,  Charles Williams, Oil on canvas

Lost and Found #1, Charles Williams, Oil on canvas

Charles WIlliams

Charles WIlliams

Charles Williams is a professional contemporary realist painter from Georgetown, South Carolina and a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art. From utilizing oils for the basis of landscapes, each painting captures his reflection of human emotions in response to and in sync with the natural environment. Recent achievements and awards include a Hudson River Landscape Fellowship, featured work in the Artists Magazines 28th Annual Art Competition, honorable mention from Southwest Art Magazines 21 Emerging Under 31 competition, 2012 Winner of the Fine Art Category from Creative Quarterly.His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina and several other southeastern states. His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina and several other southeastern states.

To see more of his work check out his website: Charles Williams. His pieces that are based off of things we fear--like drowning--some which are featured here, are killer.

3. Lucia Hierro

Cache/Cachet,  Lucia Hierro, Digital Print on Fabric/Felt/Mixed Fabrics

Cache/Cachet, Lucia Hierro, Digital Print on Fabric/Felt/Mixed Fabrics

New Yorker Collage Series , Lucia Hierro, New Yorker magazine mixed media

New Yorker Collage Series, Lucia Hierro, New Yorker magazine mixed media

On that grind/Dyckman: La casa de mami , Lucia Hierro,    Digital Print on Fabric/Felt/Mixed Fabrics     

On that grind/Dyckman: La casa de mami, Lucia Hierro,  Digital Print on Fabric/Felt/Mixed Fabrics   

Lucia Hierro's work explores the body as a collection of fragmented signifiers that includes language, taste, and culture.  Hierro addresses these ideas across a broad platform of techniques that include digital media, collage, and felt painting constructions.  As a Dominican American artist, Lucia Hierro's status as a bi-lingual female artist requires that she work across multiple media in much the same way she works across gender and culture on a daily basis. The use of The New Yorker in Hierro's work has been a way to tackle ideas of exclusion and privileged knowledge. Lucia received a BFA from SUNY Purchase (2010) and an MFA from Yale School of Art (2013). She was an artist in residence at Yaddo, the Bronx Museums Artist in the Market program and will be part of the FountainHead Residency in 2016. Lucia Hierro will be showing work at the NADA Fair NY at the Samson Gallery Booth May 5th - 8th. 

Trust me when I say these works have to be seen in person. But until you are standing in front of her witty, dopetastic work, make sure you keep up with her busy schedule and visit her website: Lucia Hierro

Peace until next time,